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#7 Survives Carnage, Finishes 12th

8/11/2007 - Hagerstown - Finished 12th - Started 17th - 37 cars

f you could only get a win by the number of hours you wrench, Don, Alisha and I would never loose!  From Wednesday night until the heat race on Saturday, the entire front end was rebuilt including new tie rods, spindles, brake pads and even lower control arms, as well as I rebuilt the carburetor and the drums were rebuilt, twice!  But I am certain that we are not the only team who works this hard on our car each week and that is why each race driver has such respect for follow drivers.  We ended up 12th on the night, but bringing a car home in one piece after the carnage tonight was a victory in itself.

The night saw 37 Pure Stocks roll into Hagerstown Speedway, surpassing car counts in the other classes, including the Enduros.  Our class grows week to week and the number of great cars and drivers is amazing.  Our class had 4 heat races with 9+ cars in each heat.  5 cars qualified for the feature from each heat.  The unqualified cars that were left, 17, had a 6 lap Consi race where the top 6 would make the feature.  We started 3rd in heat #2 and held on to 5th.  A last turn pass on Crazy Kenny Dayhoff came up a few feet short at the checkered flag.  But we were in the feature.   My sponsor Bobby Taylor driving the famous black #3, finished 5th in his heat as well and this set up our friendly rivalry with me starting 17th and Bobby 19th.  Bobby already hit me while we were staging for the feature and in the in car video, you can see me tell him he is number 1.  My teammate and other Ford driver Tony Catlett cut a tire in his heat and had to make the feature through the consi.  Tony started 16th in the 17 car field and guided his wounded 'Bird to a 5th place finish and made the show.  Watching the consi was very entertaining as drivers charged to the front, fell back, and charged back up again.  They were fighting to make the feature and it was a great race.  All of the Fords qualified tonight and made the feature, but 11 Chevrolets failed to make the race.

The feature started off relatively calm... we did have a yellow flag on lap 1, but that was for a broken driveshaft.  We then went green for the next 8 laps or so with some very close racing from the front of the field to the rear, we were all packed in tightly and you can see that in the in car video.  The next caution happened right in front of me with someone getting into the 34.  It worried me as you can tell in the video, but Bill does a great job of keeping his car in his original line and I don't think anyone else was involved.  That was great driving and great car control Bill.

They say cautions breed cautions and this was the case tonight.  After Bill's spin, two laps later a huge "Talladega-ish" pileup happens with the leaders three wide in turn 1.  I guess fortunately I was back in 15th or so and we were able to get slowed down before joining the carnage.  It seemed like the top 5 in points all were involved and were lined up in the rear of the 26 car field.

We go back to green for lap #13 and everyone is bunched up.  Coming out of turn 2 on lap 14 and hell breaks loose.  As I am getting too accustom to seeing, yet another car is flying through the air.  These are 3,300 pound beasts flying in the air like a plane.  2 of the last 3 races at Hagerstown has seen 3 Pure Stocks (Hawbaker, Sutphin, and now Beavers) barrel roll coming out of turn 2.  Beavers was said to have done 4 rolls before coming to a stop and getting tagged yet again once he landed.  Bill was involved in the wreck as well and took a hard shot.  We love all of these guys and hopefully everyone is okay.  The cars can be replaced.

So after the Limited Late Models hit their time limit due to a high number of accidents and clean up, the pure stock feature ended the same way.  Drew Fitzsimmons, whom we share engine builders with (A & C Machine), came away with his first victory.  It was a well earned win- he surely made a terrific move to miss the carnage in the turn 1 pile up.  Wayne Hawbaker who has had the worst luck this year came home in second, followed by Lin Sutphin.  The only positive to all the yellows was to see these guys up there in the top 5, they all did some awesome driving tonight to miss those big wrecks.  Good job guys.  And to the birthday boy Shammy Rock, you are welcome for your birthday present tonight... funds have been tight for me since the collapse in the real estate market, so I couldn't afford a gift for you... my present was a gift wrap pass late in the race... only because it was your birthday and I didn't want Maureen to throw you in the dog house all week by getting beat by a Ford- I know see would love that.  Next race Bobby, you are all mine!

The #7 car really felt decent tonight, but we didn't move too far forward.  After the first couple of laps, I thought we had a good car and you can hear me say that in the in car audio.  I am still having a slight problem with the brakes, they are brand new passenger car pads, although premium pads.  It just feels like the rotors slip right thru them. Also, the car was pretty loose off, although the forward bite was good. It didn't feel so loose off that it would make me slow though. So I don't know. I didn't feel confident driving it in deep and passing someone on entry because I was scared the brakes wouldn't slow the car down and I would take someone out. Don't get me wrong, I was driving it in hard- the car was a tad tight on entry. And the car wasn't fast enough to pass someone on corner exit and beat them down the straight away either... I had to keep chasing the tail up the track on exit. The car seemed perfect in the middle of the turns, it was nice and free. The only thing I know is I was wheeling it for all I had. I know I hit 300 more RPM this week than last. Went from 6700 RPM to 7K, so we did improve the car and the track was a little faster. There are 38 cars out there and the competition level is getting really, really high, its tough. For a second in Bobby's heat, I turned to Don and I said "Mark Jones may end up in the consi..." I was way wrong, he ended up 2nd, but the first 2 or 3 laps he was in 6th and 7th.

So it is what it is.  We had a car to bring home and she did run well.  We are off next week, so with the car in great shape, Don and I will decide how we want to tighten it up off the corner, try to fix the brakes, and get the carb adjusted right for the Small Fry night on August 25th.  I am gonna stop saying we should be fast that night because our luck over the past 6 or 7 races hasn't been too good.  I will say though during the next two weeks, I will have attention to each detail and work hard to get the Shamrock Inn/ 1520 AM Vegas Radio Ford Thunderbird back in the top 10.  I just want to apologize to all my family, friends, and fans for not having the car up further in the field.  As Don can attest too, it isn't from a lack of effort, dedication, or enthusiasm.  Nobody wants to win anymore than me... I have thrown my life into that car.